Consumers urged to be extra vigilant for online scams this Black Friday

todayNovember 23, 2023 79

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As many South Africans get ready to splurge on Black Friday specials, consumers have been warned to be careful to not fall prey to online scams.

Black Friday, which officially kicks off tomorrow, is a huge global shopping event that’s renowned for its major deal and discounts on goods.

As a result, stores can become chaotic on Black Friday, which has made some consumers to opt for online shopping.

iTOO Special Risks’ Candice Toprek, however, warns against being rush to avoid disappointment and possibly a loss of money.

Speaking to YNews, the cyber security expert urged consumers to beware of fake websites that look identical to known brands. She says the swindlers are employing increasingly sophisticated methods to take full advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers.

Toprek says even though transacting via digital payment methods, cards, e-wallets or other electronic payment systems is safer because consumers do not need to carry around large amounts of cash, these payment systems can possibly bring other risks with them.

“Cyber security experts are already witnessing an increase in counterfeit e-commerce sites that pretend to be legitimate brands, with cyber security company Fortinet warning that big events like Black Friday are a perfect opportunity for cyber criminals to flood inboxes with ‘special offers’ that don’t exist, leading shoppers to fake websites where shoppers happily disclose their bank details or personal information.”

This year’s Black Friday event is expected to generate about R26 billion in sales, up from R19 billion in 2022.

“What shoppers need to keep in mind is that even when there is no direct financial gain for hackers, personal user account information contains a host of valuable data, which is highly valued on the underground market and will inevitably yield a financial reward,” warns Toprek.

Below are tips Toprek has given for online shoppers in order to stay safe during the Black Friday weekend:

  • Don’t save your card information.
  • Never use free Wi-Fi for online banking and shopping.
  • Beware of phishing e-mails.
  • Check your account regularly for any suspicious activity.
  • If you receive an unexpected authentication message when you are not shopping online, block the transaction and immediately contact your bank.
  • Never click on unknown links or open e-mail attachments from unknown sources.
  • Beware of lookalike domains and always shop from authentic, reliable sources,
  • Look for the lock symbol for SSL encryption that appears on HTTPS secure sites.
  • Identify subtle clues like poor grammar or spelling errors that could indicate that the e-mail is from a fraudster.
  • If a deal is too good to be true.
  • Phone to verify – phone the retailer or bank to confirm the offer, the bank details, and any other details before you make payment.
  • Practice a strong password policy.
  • Report threats (always) – if you do receive an email that is obviously a phishing attempt, don’t just ignore or delete it – report it to your mail provider, or your IT team if received on your work mailbox.

If consumers do happen to fall or know someone who has been a victim of these scams, they are urged to use the South African Fraud Prevention Services’ YIMA online platform to report the fraud.

Using the platform – you can also scan websites you find suspicious and secure your identity.

South Africans can also contact the South African Fraud Prevention Services’ scam hotline on 083 123 SCAM (7226).

Written by: Nonhlanhla Harris

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